Bicycle touring in Mexico and Central America is a fascinating way to explore the continent. There are many reasons to travel on a bicycle. You get to know the local life, have the freedom to go anywhere and explore corners of every country that hardly see any other tourists.

We ended up spending almost 2 years cycling around Mexico and Central America. We didn’t go straight south though. Instead, we took lots of detours to explore different areas in every country. Out of the 11.000 kilometers we pedalled, these are the routes we enjoyed the most.

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TOMASOPO TO AQUISMÓN. HUASTECA POTOSINA (MEXICO)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

78 kms. 1-2 days.

Cycling the Huasteca has been one of our favourite routes in the whole trip. You don’t only have quiet roads with beautiful scenary to pedal. You will also have great camping spots next to rivers and gorgeous waterfalls to swim and camp at every night. Here, the slower the better. Don’t try to cover it all in 1 or 2 days. Cycle less, camp more and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy.

 

 

BELMOPAN TO DANGRIGA. HUMMINGBIRD HIGHWAY. (BELIZE)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

90 kms. 1 day.

This was the section we enjoyed the most in the entire Belize. Most of the country is flat and kind of boring for touring, but the road connecting Belmopan with Dangriga is very different. Continuous ups and downs (but not long climbs), very green, lots of trees providing shade, small towns on the way… a very pleasant ride. The only shame is that you cross it in just one day.

 

 

SAN FELIPE TO BAHIA LUIS GONZAGA. BAJA CALIFORNIA (MEXICO)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

170 kms. 2-3 days.

Our best advice to cycle the Baja Peninsula is to get off highway 1 as much as possible and this is the best detour for bicycle touring. From San Felipe the road is now completely paved all the way to Bahia Gonzaga. A gorgeous stretch with very little traffic where the road goes along side the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez providing amazing viewpoints at every turn.

 

 

PIEDRAS BLANCAS TO PUERTO JIMÉNEZ. PENINSULA DE OSA (COSTA RICA)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

78 kms. 1-2 days.

This is a nice detour from the panamerican highway where you can enjoy some of the quietest roads in Costa Rica. The first part to Rincón is hilly but the chances to spot wildlife are very high. You will be pedalling through pure wilderness so keep an eye on the trees for scarlet macaws, tucans, sloths and more. Once in Puerto Jiménez you can take a boat to Golfito for a few dollars.

 

 

GUABALÁ TO SONÁ. VERAGUAS (PANAMA)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

64 kms. 1-2 days.

In Panama, the interamericana highway has a lot of traffic and normally there is no shoulder. This detour is a fantastic option to get to know the rural Panama. The section between Guabalá and El Maria is very hilly, but beautiful, and the road is in excellent condition with hardly any traffic. You will see more horses than cars, and the friendly locals will receive you with a smile at every little town.

 

 

LA ENTRADA TO NUEVO CHAMELECÓN. (HONDURAS)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

118 kms. 1-2 days

Honduras has a bad reputation among travellers for being an unsafe place to visit with not very friendly locals. In our experience, it depends on the area you visit. We really enjoyed cycling from La Entrada to Nuevo Chamelecón. You will find great mountain scenery, very nice people around and not many cars. It’s also one of the cheapest area in the country.

 

 

PETO TO PISTÉ. YUCATAN (MEXICO)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

96 kms. 1 day

This area located in the south of the Yucatan state is very quiet and probably the best area for touring. You will be passing small towns where at some of them they don’t even speak Spanish, only Mayan. You will need a map to find your way around the network of small roads in the area. Its a route with flat terrain with good shade straight to the heart of the Mayan culture.

 

 

SAN LUIS TO FRAY BARTOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS. PETÉN (GUATEMALA)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

82kms. 1 day

If you want to experience how the Peten used to be many years ago, this is probably one of the best routes to take. Dirt roads, local people and gorgeous scenery makes it a great ride. Some sections can be hilly but nothing too long. Once you get to Fray, to continue to Lanquin make sure to take the road via Cobán (it’s a longer ride but will save you a very bad dirt and steep road).

 

 

MIAHUATLÁN TO POCHUTLA. SIERRA MADRE, OAXACA (MEXICO)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

140 kms. 1-2 days

It’s a hard climb to San José del Pacífico (at 3,000 meters) but the effort is really worth it. You will be passing gorgeous mountain scenery with little traffic and amazing views. Not very common in this area of Mexico. Once you reach the top, prepare yourself to enjoy a 100 kms descent to the coast of Oaxaca.

 

 

IZALCO TO LAGO COATEPEQUE. (EL SALVADOR)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

23 kms. 1 day.

It’s one of the few possible routes if you want to visit Coatepeque lake and Santa Ana volcano. The road is very quiet and once you reach the highest point the views are excellent. Check out the latest report about safety as they use to have problems with assaults in the area. It was fine when we cycled through in February 2014.

 

 

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS TO LAS ROSAS. CHIAPAS (MEXICO)

Routes for Bicycle Touring in Mexico and Central America

63 kms. 1 day.

The possibilities for bicycle touring from San Cristóbal are endless. There are many routes to choose from and most of them are excellent. We enjoyed the one heading south to Las Rosas. Great climate, zapatistas towns along the way and beautiful jungle-type scenery makes it a great option for cycling.

17 Responses

  1. Chad

    I’ve often thought about cycling through South America, but am quite nervous about it. I know many people like yourself have done it, but I still worry about robberies, kidnappings, etc. that does happen there. What are tips to avoid such occurrences, understanding that nothing is foolproof.

    Thanks,
    Chad

    • Antonio Cala

      Hi Chad,
      Robberies and assaults can happen almost anywhere, but here there are some tips to reduce risks:
      – Use common sense like not showing off expensive gear, cycling at night, going to recognized dangerous areas…
      – Ask the locals for the situation if you are unsure. They know where is safe and where is not.
      – We normally avoid big Central American capitals and other big cities. The country-side tends to be much safer and more pleasant for riding.

      I hope this helps!

    • Lewis

      I approach it with a risk vs. reward mentality. Everything we do entails some sort of risk and provides some sort of reward. Cycle touring itself is more dangerous than other forms of travel simply for the fact that you are mixing with krrs filled with clueless drivers. However, the great reward I get from it vastly outweighs the somewhat increased risk. I also take some measures to make that risk as low as possible like cycling on byways and being visible, etc.

      The same is true for the places I cycle. Sure, there are some increased risks of robbery from cycling in some areas, but the reward I get from it vastly outweighs the risk, and of course I again try to mitigate that risk. It also helps a lot to take some time to really look into the statistics to see how risky it really is. So many people freak out about us going to Mexico because we’ll surely die. When I looked into the real numbers, the per capita murders of Americans here are actually not much different than they are in some of our cities, and many of those deaths, like back home, involved alcohol or drugs. I also feel much safer on the roads here because we get a lot more respect from drivers than back home, so I feel pretty good. That doesn’t mean nothing will happen, but the expected value is quite low.

  2. Lewis

    There have been many, but one that was really amazing, but really tough that I actually wrote about was Álamos, Sonora to El Fuerte, Sinaloa in northern Mexico. It was a long slog through rough dirt roads with almost no traffic, amazing views and friendly little villages.
    http://www.rudimentsofgruel.com/a-brutal-ride/

    • Antonio Cala

      Nice one Lewis.

      We missed Sonora as we decided to go through Baja, but will keep this in mind for the next time we are in the area. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ben

    Hi Antonio,

    I am looking to go on a 2 month bicycle tour in Central America, but I am having difficulty even beginning to plan a route. Do you have any recommendations for good sites to help me out? Or, better yet, do you have more info written down on what some of your more long distance routes were? Thanks!

    Ben

  4. Aaron DeFreese

    Central Mexico is great for cycling. All of the cities have clubs who sponsor rides every weekend. I live in Querétaro and we have the Sierra Gorda mountains. It’s a beautiful area and very bike friendly.

    • Antonio Cala

      I agree. Most of the cities also block the streets to the traffic on the weekends so people can enjoy cycling, walking or running without traffic. From Querétaro, we really enjoyed the Huasteca. One of our favourite areas for cycling in Mexico.

  5. James

    Hi Antonio. First, this is really an awesome website– thank you.

    Could I ask for your thoughts on the following?

    I’m an experienced traveler and I bike here at home, but have never cycled in Mexico or Central America, or organized my own cycling trip. So basically I’m a complete beginner.

    I also have a limited amount of time off coming up — about 5-6 days, including flying to and from Mexico. So I was thinking about a quick trip, starting in Cancun or Playa del Carmen where I can presumably rent a bike. (And I noticed on your route map you biked Cancun-Tulum, as well as Merida-Cancun.)

    Do you think a Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Tulum trip (or just part of that) would be worth doing? Or would I just be on highways the whole time?

    Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. Thanks very much, James

    • Antonio Cala

      You will be on the highway all the time, mate. Not good.

      I would take the bike to Tulum (put it on top of any colectivo) and cycle Tulum to Punta Allen. This is a much better route. No traffic and hardly any people around. It’s unpaved (mountain bike would be ideal) and you will have a really nice and deserted beach all the way to Punta Allen. There’s nothing on the way (not even water) so bring all the supplies you need for the ride. In Punta Allen, there are shops, restaurants and places to stay. You can take the bus back to Tulum (only 1 per day), hitch-hike or cycle back if you loved it!

      • James

        Antonio, thanks so much for your reply. I’ll definitely look into Punta Allen. – James

  6. Dagan Jurjans

    woot heading to Huasteca, SLP tommorow!
    Great blog! I’ve been touring mexico for a bit and have loved it so far. Just plan ahead for coming into the really big cities and try to only ride during the day.

  7. Joey

    Is there any way to cycle from CA to Quito where the beginning of the Andes Trail is? I’ve found a way through to Wales AK from Jasper but I can’t find anything along the continental divide from Panama to Equador.

    • George Lewis

      Hey Joey, there’s a stretch called the Darien just after Yaviza, Panama. It has no roads but there’s boats that go around. So I’ve heard

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